Grandma

We left the hospital at 2am, and got the call at 6am. She’s gone, and I’m heartbroken.

She was born Evelyn, but everyone called her Peggy. I called her Grandma. (1924-2003.)

Update: This is the eulogy that I wrote for her funeral yesterday.


My grandmother was a truly amazing person. She was brilliant, compassionate, and outgoing, a fantastic dancer with a sense of humor, and without any ego at all. In other words, exactly like me!

Seriously, though, we have a lot in common. Among other things, I inherited her curly hair, her mind for trivia, and her obsession with books and music… She preferred mystery novels and jazz standards, while I liked science fiction and rock n’ roll, but those differences are only skin-deep. Like she always said, “I guess that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.” (She preferred butter pecan.)

That reminds me of one small difference between us: she was an amazing cook, while I still have trouble boiling water. Meatballs with all-day sauce, stuffed shells, followed by icebox cake… It was all so good. You could walk into her apartment and pass out from the smells alone. It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

And when I’d walk home from elementary school and let myself into her empty apartment, there would always be a note on the TV, telling me that there were cookies and milk in the fridge. It’s the little things… I always knew that she was thinking about me.

As we both grew older, we grew even closer. I did some pretty terrible things in high school, but she always took my side, even when I was clearly in the wrong. She defended and protected me, mostly from my mom.

Years later, at my wedding, she serenaded us in a garden in Cambria, accompanied by a jazz band. She sang, “It had to be you, wonderful you… It had to be you.” She had such a beautiful singing voice, and I swear, she must have known the lyrics to every single song written before 1959.

We shared a dance afterwards. Even though I was taller than her, she still made me feel like a little boy, as we danced cheek-to-cheek. It was the best day of my life.

When I think of her, I think of her warm embrace. On my bad days, she would hold and comfort me. Grandma would wrap me in her arms and protect me from the rest of the world, and make me feel that everything was going to be all right.

Even in her hospital bed, holding her hand and listening to her soft breath, I wanted to kick my shoes off and be hugged by those safe, strong arms. But I just held her hands and whispered, “I love you, Grandma… I love you.”

During one of our visits to the hospital, she woke up from a deep sleep and tried to make her way to the bathroom. She leaned against me to steady herself and swayed with tiny steps. We slowly spun around, dancing in the light from the hospital window. She looked off in the distance and I heard her softly sing… “S’ wonderful, S’ marvelous… That you should care for me.” And as quick as it begun, it was over. It was our last dance together.

Our family is a tree, with all the branches and leaves leading back to a strong and sturdy woman with roots deep in the ground. It’s difficult to imagine life without her, the foundation that gave us all life. Knowing that my own children will never know her, never be able to feel that embrace. It makes me sad.

But then I remember another song, written by Irving Berlin, sung by Ella Fitzgerald:

The moon descended

And I found with the break of dawn

You and the song had gone

But the melody lingers on

Her body may be gone, but she lives on in the deepest fiber of our being. Her life and blood and memory live on in us, her children and grandchildren and, soon, her great-grandchildren. And long after I’ve passed on, all those qualities that made her my Grandma will linger on in my children’s children.

We’re her legacy and life’s work, and I’m proud and grateful every day to belong to such noble blood.

52 thoughts on “Grandma

  1. Andy,

    I met your grandmother once when i was in high school when your mom taught journalism at Santa Clara High School, and she just lit up the whole room a very kindhearted and wonderful woman. She May be gone, but her spirit is with all of you! My heart goes out to you and your family.

    Cathy

  2. sorry for your loss πŸ™

    hope she lived a full life, that’s the best any of us can hope for

  3. If it’s any consolation I know exactly how you feel; my grandmother is in a coma after a massive stroke, and is in essence brain-dead. I share the pain. πŸ™

  4. I am very sorry to hear of your loss, my condolences go out to you and your family. I to lost my grandmother not to long ago and i understand your pain. My thaughts and prayers go out to yo and your family.

  5. So sorry to hear about your loss. Hope everything is as well as can be expected during this hard time.

  6. She sounds like a wonderful person.

    May the greatest qualities in her live on in you and your family.

    Peace,

    K

  7. My condolences to you and your family. You mom’s blog has been hardbreaking to read. At least Peggy is not in pain anymore.

  8. Andy,

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss … i’ve lost 3 family members in the last 3 months… including my grandma who raised me… i understand what you are feeling…and you have my sincere condolences

  9. Keep her memory alive, think of her often and remember the good times. Smile when you think of her. Grandmas are wonderful, my condolences to you and your family.

  10. I’m so sorry dude, I tried to read your moms site but found it too much. Hell I never cry, but sitting here at work in the quite of the build room my eyes welled up. I really feel for you.

  11. Sorry for your troubles man…hope you can put the bad stuff away in time, and only remember the good…

  12. So sorry to hear of your loss. I’ve been reading your mom’s site and her posts have been heartbreaking. Please take care of yourself.

  13. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. I lost my mother last april, so I might understand what you are and will be going through. They say that when a bone is broken, after it heals, the bone is stronger than it was before. Maybe the same can be said about the human spirit.

  14. June 23 was my Nana’s birthday. She died in April and things haven’t been the same since. I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss.

    My thoughts are with you.

  15. Truly wonderful eulogy. I am deeply touched. It made me remember of the passing of my grandmother, similarily an amazing person, which is one of the most important moments in my life. Thank you very very much for sharing your words.

    Paul

  16. Hey man… my most sincere condolences… Your Grandmother sounded like a wonderful person, and alot like mine, who left us three years ago yesterday. You wrote a beautiful eulogy.

    Andy, my thoughts are with you.

  17. My condolences. Keep going, remember you will see her again since all of us are going to the same place one day…

  18. Your eulogy is beautiful. I cried, half from feeling your sadness, and half from feeling your love for her.

  19. Oh, Andy…I’m so sorry. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful bright young spirit. She will indeed live on in you and your family and your memories. She is not gone, never really will be. That’s the way a life such as hers is.

    I can’t help but be reminded of a day last August when I lost my own grandmother (I too posted my eulogy). Certain things you wrote just brings her back to life, at least in my mind. It was wonderful as well to read your mom’s blog. I wish that my own mother would have had an outlet like the Internet. A lot of healing comes from writing those words, and even more good comes when other people can read them and connect.

    Stay strong…

  20. Even though it is very sad, and trust me I do feel for you but instead of everyone saying things that will bring more tears to your eyes you should celebrate her life. Celebrate what a wonderful person she was and how she impacted your life. Learn from her, and remember all the good things.

  21. Beautifully written. I wish I could’ve said a similar thing when my grandmother passed away. But I didn’t care for her that much, for different reasons. And so it is with life: for the more a person “gives” to you, the more pain you feel when they leave. I’ve come to, not like, but appreciate the pain, for it shows you how deep and genuine your feelings are.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  22. My condolences on the passing of your gramma. Very eloquently written. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  23. I don’t know you or your grandmother at all, but I almost started to cry when I read that. It was so beautiful and heartfelt. I’m glad to see that someone cherishes family as much as you do.

  24. You and I both lost a grandparent within a month of each other. I’m very sorry to hear about your Grandmother, Fink.

    –m4

  25. i feel your pain. i lost my grandma 3 days after my grandpas funeral. what was even sadder it was 2 days before her birthday. you wrote that beautifully thanks for sharing.

  26. Wow… my grandmother is really sick. I did a web search for eulogy for grandma and found this. I am sitting at my computer, reading about a woman I have never met, and bawling. Thanks for writing such beautiful words.

  27. My sincere condolences to you and your Family Andy, I know how it feels , I just lost my Grandma in Easter Sunday.

    God Bless.

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